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Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Quote of the day

“A land does not become sacred simply because God is present in the churches, mosques and synagogues. It is sacred because God is kept alive in the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens through their daily acts of love and kindness to each other.”

Prof. Mona Siddiqui, BBC Thought for the Day, 16 November 2010

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Arguably the most prominent evangelical leader in America, Rick Warren writes to the Ugandan  Christian leaders asking them to reconsider their support for the controversial law to criminalise homosexuals in that country. Warren’s intervention is unprecedented and surprising and shows how far the mainstream evangelical have moved in a relatively short period of time.

At the same time Warren’s intervention puts Rowan Williams to shame. Williams has kept quiet to his shame over this odious proposed legislation while he was quick to jumped up within less than twelve hours after the election of Mary Glasspool as the bishop of Los Angeles Diocese of Episcopal Church in USA. Well done Rick, shame Rowan.

Here is a video and the letter of Rick Warren which are posted on his blog:

“Dear fellow pastors in Uganda,

I greet you in the name and love of Jesus Christ as I send this encyclical video to the pastors of the churches of Uganda with greetings from your fellow pastors around the world. May grace and peace be with you this Christmas season.

We are all familiar with Edmund Burke’s insight that, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” That is why I’m sharing my heart with you today. As an American pastor, it is not my role to interfere with the politics of other nations, but it IS my role to speak out on moral issues. It is my role to shepherd other pastors who look to me for guidance, and it is my role to correct lies, errors, and false reports when others associate my name with a law that I had nothing to do with, completely oppose, and vigorously condemn. I am referring to the pending law under consideration by the Ugandan Parliament, known as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

As a pastor, I’ve found the most effective way to build consensus for social change is usually through direct quiet diplomacy and behind the scenes dialogue, rather than through media. But because I didn’t rush to make a public statement, some erroneously concluded that I supported this terrible bill, and some even claimed I was a sponsor of the bill. You in Uganda know that is untrue.

I am releasing this video to you and your congregations to correct these untruths and to urge you to make a positive difference at this critical point in your nation.

While we can never deny or water down what God’s Word clearly teaches about sexuality, at the same time the church must stand to protect the dignity of all individuals — as Jesus did and commanded all of us to do.

Let me be clear that God’s Word states that all sex outside of marriage is not what God intends. Jesus reaffirmed what Moses wrote that marriage is intended to be between one man and one woman committed to each other for life. Jesus also taught us that the greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Since God created all, and Jesus suffered and died for all, then we are to treat all with respect. The Great Commandment has been the centerpiece of my life and ministry for over 35 years.

Of course, there are thousands of evil laws enacted around the world and I cannot speak to pastors about every one of them, but I am taking the extraordinary step of speaking to you — the pastors of Uganda and spiritual leaders of your nation — for five reasons:

First, the potential law is unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals, requiring the death penalty in some cases. If I am reading the proposed bill correctly, this law would also imprison anyone convicted of homosexual practice.

Second, the law would force pastors to report their pastoral conversations with homosexuals to authorities.

Third, it would have a chilling effect on your ministry to the hurting. As you know, in Africa, it is the churches that are bearing the primary burden of providing care for people infected with HIV/AIDS. If this bill passed, homosexuals who are HIV positive will be reluctant to seek or receive care, comfort and compassion from our churches out of fear of being reported. You and I know that the churches of Uganda are the truly caring communities where people receive hope and help, not condemnation.

Fourth, ALL life, no matter how humble or broken, whether unborn or dying, is precious to God. My wife Kay and I have devoted our lives and our ministry to saving the lives of people, including homosexuals, who are HIV positive. It would be inconsistent to save some lives and wish death on others. We’re not just pro-life. We are whole life.

Finally, the freedom to make moral choices, and our right to free expression are gifts endowed by God. Uganda is a democratic country with a remarkable and wise people, and in a democracy everyone has a right to speak up. For these reasons, I urge you, the pastors of Uganda, to speak out against the proposed law.

My role, and the role of the PEACE Plan, whether in Uganda or any other country, is always pastoral, not political.  I vigorously oppose anything that hinders the goals of the PEACE Plan: Promoting reconciliation, Equipping ethical leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation, which includes the protection of children.

Please know that you and the people of Uganda are in my constant prayers. This Christmas season I pray you will experience the three purposes of Christmas as announced by the angel at the birth of Christ. First, the angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy.” Christmas is a time of celebration — Jesus is the Good News for the whole world. God came to earth to be with us! Next, the angel said, “For unto us is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” Christmas is a time for salvation. If we didn’t need a Savior, God would not have sent one. Finally, the angel said, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” Christmas is a time for reconciliation. The message of Christmas is good cheer, good news, and good will for the whole world.

It is my prayer that the churches and people of Uganda will experience all three of these this season. May God bless you; and may God bless the nation of Uganda.

Christmas 2009″

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Henry Potter poses some legitimate questions in this article, The right to offend. See how many agree with him.

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A fellow colleague (for the ministry) and friend of mine has just started a blog (Oh my Cod) where he records what he tells us in an email, his life changing experience, during a spell in Israel/Palestine this summer with the Christian Peace maker teams.

the following sentence from his reflection during his second day in Israel caught my attention, in part5icualar as it is made in the context of reflection on archaeological research in Israel: “What is this theology of the land where the living are unimportant and the past is priceless?”

The full paragraph is: “We are taken to the Garden of David. The claim is made that this land is where King David drank tea in his garden overlooking Jerusalem. And so the archaeologists come in. Not state archaeologists but NGO’s. Ngo’s are given complete control over the area. And they strip all the soil, all the history away until they get to the Jewish level. The other stories of the past are but dust and rubble, of no interest, worthless. Archaeological war crimes. And the Palestinian homes, which rest on the earth, which hold the stories of the past, are of no interest, an inconvenience. Some are bought off, some are harassed and bullied to leave. One remains. The house is ‘worthless’ the ownership of the land is priceless. And we hear of offers of millions of dollars to sell but they stay. What is the land worth? What is a home worth? What is this theology of the land where the living are unimportant and the past is priceless?”

Thanks C!

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When I arrived in Britain in 1992 I experienced a great cultural shock. I arrived from a country which until just over a year before that was ruled and policed by one of the most intolerant and controlling dictatorial regime. No amount of training and preparation could have made me ready for what life was like in a free country as the UK. I am sure that many other young people who made a similar transition might have had a similar experience.

When I arrived in the UK I was amazed that there was so little surveillance (people here did not even have an ID!)  and overwhelmed by the lack of directives and rules. It was left to myself to discover all the intricacies of life in a residential college and society in general. It took me more than 6 months to enter the local supermarket, as I was afraid that people would watch me! Now I find this embarrassing, and probably a little funny, but at that time it was really a struggle. It is dreadful to see (and experience) what a dictatorial system does with a human person. Over above the fact that it dis-humanises people, also it takes away one’s confidence and it installs in you paranoia.

Over the last few years, (since this tendency to legislate on anything), every time when I had an opportunity I sought to tell my friends and colleagues that at this moment in time we, here in Britain, are slowly sliding towards a totalitarian police state. The government is slowly bringing in, what they call, security measures, which are designed to spy and gather data about everyone, which could easily be used by the authorities to control people.

Recently the press reported on some of these intrusions. Remember this headline Council admits spying on family, (and see this link for coverage in other media) what about this one A spy in your bin? Then add the multitudes of cameras all over the place in towns, on the roads, even in public buildings. I think the UK is the most spayed on country in the world!

In my spare time I am a member of the local Community Council. (Last week I attended a a training session, with the local Council planning chief, on the new planning legislation to be implemented from August this year. To tell you the truth, the Scottish Parliament made a mess of this legislation).  Anyway, at one of our recent Community Council meetings (you can read the minutes now on line, and if would like to, just get in touch with me and I will give to the web address) some of the councillors come with a suggestion as to ask the council to install CCTV cameras in our area. Well, that turned me on, and you might guess that by the end of the conversation only the chair person was in favour of the cameras!

Timothy Garton Ash is raising this issue in a brilliant article last week in the Guardian. The only thing that I would like to add is that: I hope (and I will spare no effort to make sure) I am not going to relive again the nightmare of the communist regime! Only thinkig about it makes me shiver!

PS. Thefirst image is a Banksy borrowd from the Independent.

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